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Keywords:

  • α-MSH;
  • magnocellular nucleus;
  • neuropeptides;
  • plasticity;
  • POMC;
  • suprachiasmatic nucleus

Abstract

This review focuses on the plasticity of the regulation of a particular neuroendocrine transducer cell, the melanotrope cell in the pituitary pars intermedia of the amphibian Xenopus laevis. This cell type is a suitable model to study the relationship between various external regulatory inputs and the secretion of an adaptive endocrine message, in this case the release of α-melanophore-stimulating hormone, which activates skin melanophores to darken when the animal is placed on a dark background. Information about the environmental conditions is processed by various brain centres, in the hypothalamus and elsewhere, that eventually control the activity of the melanotrope cell regarding hormone production and secretion. The review discusses the roles of these hypothalamic and extrahypothalamic nuclei, their neurochemical messengers acting on the melanotrope, and the external stimuli they mediate to control melanotrope cell functioning.